Afrika Newspaper's current logo
We were informed with great shock and dismay in the morning of June 18, 2020, that Mr. Sener Levent, the Editor-in-chief of the Afrika newspaper announced that he will be suing VOIS Cyprus for defamation, as a response to our candid public request/demand to him and his newspaper, to change their logo which had depictions of an ape, and stipulated the reasons why the logo’s depiction had racist underpinnings.
At a moment in time, when we as a society, are all looking inwards and standing in solidarity against racism and racial discrimination, the response by Mr. Sener Levent to being rightly called out as encouraging racism and stereotyping, is nothing short of an attempt to bully us into silence, by suing us in court. It is extremely tragic that a newspaper which has over the years stood for freedom of expression, is trying to infringe on our right to freely express ourselves. More so, it is also important to recognize the fact that we are in the right to decry the racist nature of the newspaper’s logo.
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It is vital for us to point out that before publicly calling out Afrika newspaper for the racist nature of its logo, we have previously, on several occasions, attempted to talk its editor into changing this logo. In fact, in November 2018, following an outcry from the black members of our community, we met with editors of the Afrika newspaper and not only explained to them why the use of the name Afrika was problematic, but also why using the ape in place of ‘i’ was disconcerting. At the end of this meeting, we agreed with the editors that they could keep the name Afrika (even though we would have much wanted it to be changed), and in exchange we were going to design a new logo for the newspaper, one which was empowering, and not racist. Less than a month later, we met with the editors of the Afrika newspaper as agreed, with the newly designed logos which our team had worked on (logos are attached at the bottom of this text). However, and to our dismay, we were informed that they would no longer be upholding their end of the agreement. The editors had effectively decided against changing its current logo, with the racist symbol, and insisted on continuing with it, reneging on their previous stance and agreement with us, about how problematic it was.
Even though we were disappointed, and felt betrayed by the broken promise, we did not overreact. Rather, we contacted friends of the newspaper on several occasions and requested that they mediate on our behalf. All attempts to convince Mr. Levent otherwise, fell on deaf ears.
Recently, as part of our campaign of solidarity against racial discrimination here in the TRNC, following the gruesome murder of George Floyd in the United States, we once again raised the issue of the racial prejudice of both the name Afrika as a choice for the newspaper, and the depiction of an ape. Although, we also outlined other instances of racial discrimination, bigotry and prejudice in the Turkish Cypriot community, we were particularly concerned that a newspaper which has historically claimed to stand for justice, freedom, fairness and human rights, would still knowingly display a symbol of racism, and insensitivity to the African people and continent, in such a flagrant manner in 2020.
Our position is that by using a depiction of an ape in the middle of the ‘Afrika’ logo, Mr. Sener Levent and his staff are continuing a history of simianization, which has existed for centuries.
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